Localised haptic response and programmable touch effects for printed control panels

May 18, 2012 //By Julien Happich
HiWave Technologies has launched a touch feedback platform for control panels to be integrated in everyday household appliances.

The platform will enable manufacturers to simplify the production process by replacing button controls with flat control panels that maintain the feel of a mechanical key press, when touched. HiWave will initially target the 300m-unit per annum home appliance market with this innovative technology to enable the faithful reproduction of the feel that a traditional mechanical button, switch or keypad produces when pressed on microwaves, fridge-freezers, hobs and ovens. The technology also brings benefits to industrial, commercial and medical touch control panels.

The Taptic demonstration platform uses HiWave 3rd dimension haptics, it incorporates two HiWave HIHXC9C005-8 haptic actuators, which attach to the back of a flat printed touch interface panel, and a HiWave HiHS9002 haptic control integrated circuit. It can work with both capacitive and resistive touch panel technologies.

By using the company's patented Bending Wave technology, the actuators precisely deliver waveforms across the panel to replicate the feel of a mechanical keypad and, if desired, simultaneously overlay audio cues. The key benefit of HiWave’s patented Bending Wave Haptics is that the panel can be firmly fixed, or integral in the appliance. No physical movement is necessary as bending waves create the tactile sensation locally in the touch panel. This reduces cost, increases ruggedness and product lifetime, as well as enabling the entire unit to be 'wipe clean’. Moreover, this is achieved with a high level of mechanical efficiency by HiWave’s patented inertial exciters, resulting in crisp tactile sensation with low power consumption.

HiWave’s algorithms processed in the company‘s haptic control chip enables haptic feedback responses to be precisely selected and tuned by both the user and manufacturer to replicate a wide range of button press sensations. The frequency of operation delivers over an octave for true wideband haptics, and up to 15kHz for audio playback. A range of audio feedbacks – from simple pings and clicks to mp3 files containing spoken instructions and music - can also be delivered